The results of the 2016 presidential election have shaken this country.
After an election that became an ugly spectacle debasing our country and driving a wedge through its people, we are left to fear an administration openly opposed to the values we hold dear. We have every reason to expect President-Elect Trump and the extremely conservative Congress will appoint a cabinet and Supreme Court justices that will not only seek to block our path to a fair economy, but chip away at the gains we have made: wage and hour protections, workplace safety, non-discrimination, total or partial repeal of Obamacare, commonsense immigration reform like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, reproductive rights, and the list goes on.
We can expect an increase in the bullying and scapegoating of unions, immigrants, Muslims, women, people of color and any group that can be defined as the “other.”
How did we get here? How was it possible for someone like Trump to come to power? For those of us who are organizers, who build coalitions in our workplaces and communities, these are painful questions that touch on what we do every day. But far from being a repudiation of grassroots organizing, this election underscores its necessity. Trump is what happens when corporate power goes unchecked and individuals feel they have no power; Trump is the result when millions of people desperately throw their support behind a demagogue who appeals to their self-interest and exploits their frustrations.
But if necessity is the mother of invention, now is the time for real transformation. Our local has already begun down that exciting path—fueled by the 2015 Convention’s Vision for Power mandate towards a scalable, resilient new culture of rank-and-file activism that engages thousands more of us at the worksite.
The old top-down system of unionism is not sustainable, and the question we need your best thinking on, is what it will be replaced by. We know it must be inclusive and diverse, incentivize voluntary membership, activate thousands of new leaders, and expand our reach. The rest will require your thinking—and your active participation.
Together with our allies, we can imagine a massive realignment of resources and strategy that focuses on our vision of a just society and which will become the spark of the next worker movement in America.
No doubt, there are hard times in front of us as we watch Donald Trump and a hard-line right-wing Congress take office and attempt to dismantle a century’s worth of progress. We know there will be darkness. But if thousands of us invest in the fight ahead—with our heads, our hearts and our feet, withdraw resources from failed strategies, re-commit to each other and our values—we will prevail.